Updated: Jan 20, 2020
New York City-based Tai Chi teacher, Thomas Malone shares his experience
Patrick Watson, our school’s founder suggested starting to learn Tai Chi at age 4. I got a late start on my Tai Chi journey as I didn’t start learning until I was 9. I lament having wasted those five precious years!
I went to Tai Chi summer camp when I was 9, and I started learning the Tai Chi form. More importantly at that age, I got to play the Tai Chi kids’ games. The Tai Chi kids’ games were Patrick Watson’s unique contribution to our lineage. He designed them to transmit the principles of Tai Chi to children through what feels like play rather than study.
The principles began to permeate other aspects of my life while I was growing up. I can remember knowing to focus in my tantien when learning to drop in on a skateboard ramp and when playing sports in general. I also learned the virtue of relaxing in the face of adversity, such as during accidents or when falling down.
As I got older, in my teens and early 20s, experience taught me to go to my Tai Chi practice when I was in emotional turmoil. The practice would eventually calm me and ground me. At 19, I started practicing daily, and I gradually began to notice more global changes in my life. For example, in college and grad school I had experiences of gracefulness and ease in my everyday movements. I also noticed more ease in my relations with others. Friends would comment on this ease and ask me about it, and I would always attribute it to my Tai Chi practice, especially to push hands practice with a partner. All of the teachings of push hands can be applied to harmonious and successful human interaction.
Beyond all of these everyday life perks that come with the consistent practice of Tai Chi, there is a deeper level of mind-body-spirit integration that is not as easy to convey with words, and it comes from cultivating the meditative aspects of this art. This integration has given me moments of “living awareness” and “a way of being and doing” in life.
At some point the boundary began to blur between where my practice ends and the rest of my life begins. Eventually, like with Professor Cheng, a seamlessness develops between the two, and every moment is enhanced by being in the Tai Chi state.